Christian, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, loss, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, Uncategorized

Good conversations

friends2

This post is dedicated to Sue Rozell – my mentor, my sister in Christ, my friend who this week went home to be with our Lord.  I will truly miss our good conversations.

Lately I have been spending most of my time at home alone, focused on work and projects that have deadlines with not a lot of wiggle room.  I very much enjoy this time alone in productivity and gain a great sense of satisfaction in the creative process, but still I often lay my head down at night feeling that something is missing.  I realized driving home from my visit with my sister last week what it is: Conversation.  Really good conversation.

My husband is a night owl and I’m a morning person (not functioning quite as early as in days past, but most definitely at my best when the sun is rising).  It is not unusual that later in the evening he will approach a really good subject that could prompt some quality exchange.  I’ll know it is a worthy topic yet my response is often a pat reply because I simply lack the mental energy to engage.  I make a note to come back to the subject another day but the thought gets lost in the next day’s activity…

We need good conversations.  You know, the kind that make you think hard or perhaps even question your position on a matter.  Conversations where we are listening as much as talking.  Discourses that put our perceived barriers into perspective because they allow for differences.  Dialogues that stir our passions and ignite us to go deeper into the meaning of our lives.  Fearless discussions that open the paths to growth and change.  Words so rooted in love that they draw others into a refuge where masks can be dropped and freedom can be found.

In our day and time it is easy to miss the value of good conversations.  Technology that allows for the faceless relay of information has crippled us.  We often mistake social media posts for conversation, text our words of encouragement rather than take the time to call or visit, or email our responses to situations in order to avoid conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities for communication that technology provides.  But I must admit, I’ve too often succumbed to the ease and efficiency of its use rather than allowing the inconvenience to my plans that real conversation may present.

I’ve known for a long time that I lack the skill to sustain chit-chat for any length of time.  I am easily bored with talk of things that are insignificant to me and that category is quite large.  I’m no fashionista, decorator, traveler, entertainer, philosopher or multitudes of other things.  I greatly appreciate the fact that God has gifted us each differently but I struggle in conversation when my very limited knowledge (and interest) of temporal things has very quickly been exhausted.  I can talk “sewing” quite well but even that only takes me so far…  Wow.  I sound reeaaaalllllyyyyy boring.

I love the opportunities I am offered to stand and speak or teach.  I am passionate about my God and my faith, ever-ready to share the things He has done in my life.  I love when the sessions allow for interaction and questions.  I no longer fear those who may disagree with my perspective because I believe in this life we have much to learn from each other. I thoroughly enjoy when someone takes the time on a break between sessions to seek me out and talk.  Really talk.

Through the years I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who have both gently led into and aggressively provoked deeper conversations.  Some have spoken truly profound things to me in the midst of simple conversations not knowing their words would have an eternal impact.  Others have come with difficult words that at the time left me speechless and feeling as if I were gasping for air, only to discover later that the painful truths exposed served to water seeds of needed change.  Many have come with exhortation and encouragement that helped keep my feet on the path that was and is mine to walk. We all need more good conversations.

I am mourning the loss of my friend and already missing the sound of her voice.  As I praise God for her life and say my goodbye, I pray that I will be half the woman of God that she was.  I want to brew more coffee and invite more people into good conversations in the hopes that some will walk away having found what I found with her – a hunger for more of Him.

 

Good conversations” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Two Friends Young Girls Talking PAINTING BY CARL SCHWENINGER JUNIOR

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, love, prayer, sorrow, tears, trials

When faith and prayer are not enough

 

CookingShoppingLP-1

This week my heart has been heavy for a friend.  Her plate is full and she just got served another big helping of life that has the ability to overwhelm.  Again.  While I don’t feel that I know her that well yet, what I have seen in her quiet demeanor is a river that runs deep, a strength that endures, and a life lived in the business of giving.  We had but a moment together before an event when she relayed the latest information to me and I felt that old, familiar helplessness rising as I watched her fight the tears that welled up in her eyes.  I recognized the resistance to the unwelcomed flood that threatened to pour forth, a resistance to yield for fear that the waters would rise and overtake her, drowning her in the unspoken sorrow that claimed her heart that day.

She covets the thoughts and prayers of her friends and family and I assured her immediately that I would be praying and standing with her in faith for the help and hope and healing that is needed.  And I have.  I am sure that she is confident that I will not forget to pray or speak life over her situation.  I have no actual hand in the solution, no concrete way to step in and save the day, yet I have not been able to shake the feeling that I need to do more.

God has worked in my life an openness to others and a comfort with sharing my experiences, but I am still at heart a private and more reserved person when it comes to my own needs.  I see this same characteristic in my friend.  I approach with caution not because I don’t want to help, but because I do not want to press too far or offend in any way.  So as I asked God what more could I do, He answered in His wonderful simplicity:

“You can cook.  You can clean.  You can drive.  You can listen.  You can help.”

I couldn’t wait to see her this morning just to say “Let me help.”  To tell her that I can cook, clean, drive, and listen. It’s not like I didn’t know I can do these things, but His prompting was to stop waiting for her to ask!  To probe for a little more information about the things that lie ahead and to purposefully plan to do things she would never ask me to do.  We so often reserve these acts of service for the moms who’ve come home with a newborn or the family that mourns a lost one.  So many people we know have so many problems that we can find ourselves paralyzed into inactivity, relying on our promises of faithful prayers to be enough.  And sometimes they are.  But I strongly suspect that more often our faith should have some actual muscle behind it and our prayers should be more shown than heard, because true faith produces good works (James 2).

On the other hand, in our desire to live our faith and be strong Christians we many times find ourselves unable to ask for help.  My friend needs rest. She would never ask and I’m no Martha Stewart, but I can cook a meal.  It won’t give her days of rest but maybe for that evening she can just sit for a while.  I can drive and run errands and maybe for an hour or two she doesn’t have to think about what needs to be done in her ordinary life.  I can listen and let her cry without any expectations or condemnation but simply because sometimes we just need to have a good, long cry.  I am not the answer to the problem, but I can help.

Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews  13:16

So this week and the next week and the next week and for however long she needs, I will help.  And as I stand in faith and pray for those I know who are in need, I think I’ll head to the kitchen a little more often and cook someone a meal.

 

When faith and prayer are not enough” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, mothers, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

The silence speaks

If he had known the course his silence would chart, he would have spoken.  If he had known that his silence spoke to me lies of my unworthiness to be loved, he would have told me the very opposite – that he loved me more deeply than words could express.  His silence spoke his disappointment loudly and I was too young to understand that it spoke more about him and his pain than about me.  Through the pretense of the everyday as if nothing were wrong, his silence grew to be louder than any other voice my soul could hear.  And it broke my heart.

It was an excruciating pain to know that his eyes avoided mine no matter how close we stood, that his voice would not respond to mine no matter how clearly I spoke.  I stifled my cries as it was clear they would do no good nor bring about any change.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, the silence chiseled the fragile strands of any innocent childhood belief that I was good enough to be loved.

If he had known his silence would create in me a desperation that was easily wooed by sounds of false love, he would have spoken.  I had no warning that my opposition to him would cost so very much.  His silence taught me that the consequences of mistakes in love were to be feared and that I would have to work very hard to be good.  The emptiness left by the absence of the voice I adored most was mine to bear, and I while I gained sympathy from many who knew, deep inside I believed it to be just.  I believed I deserved it.

If he had known that his silence would teach me to be a pretender, he would have spoken because he despised pretenders.  But I had learned in his silence to put on a happy face and do the things before me as if it didn’t matter that I was broken.  By the time he spoke a chasm had formed, but we never talked about that either.  And in that chasm lay the belief that the key to love was to do and say and be what someone else wanted, and to keep silent about myself for no one wants someone who is broken.

I carried all that his silence taught me into the relationships I had and into my walk with God.  It’s easy to hear the message that God is angry when it is what you expect.  It is easy to believe that God can only approve of you if you do what is right.  It is easy to believe that you do not deserve His help if you do not do exactly as He commands.  It is easy to believe that His silence means you are unworthy of His love when silence is the very thing you fear.

My desperation and resulting failure at love were the very things that brought me to real Love.  Having nowhere to run and no place to hide and my pretense in shambles, my brokenness spilled out as if a mighty dam had crumbled.  Every sob I let forth was met with Tenderness.  Every sigh of unworthiness was captured by Mercy.  Every ache of unloveliness was comforted by extravagant Love.  Every effort to “do” was quenched by what was already “done”.  I found I was truly loved.

I am on a continuing journey of learning who He really is and what His love is all about.  And sometimes love is silent.  Like when a mother just looks at her child without a word because there are no words adequate to describe the love that rages inside.  She asks nothing of the child but to let her look, to not turn away.  I have learned that God’s love is like that.

I have to purpose to rest in His times of silent love because it is still easy for me to revert back to my impossible efforts and wrong ideas that I must somehow do something to deserve His love.  Just this week I was asking Him what to do with His silence, and He simply said

“My silence speaks:  Trust me.”

And I was not afraid.

 

The silence speaks” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, righteousness, Spiritual, tears

Peeling the onion

I love how God orchestrates the details of our lives.  I had no intention of returning to work beyond the walls of my home but I knew when He was leading otherwise.  Once I determined to search for a job, my criteria was very simple and specific for the “right” position.  First, it had to be part-time.  I wanted to continue my business as a seamstress and I wanted to have time to write and speak and teach.  Second, I didn’t want to have to go through a great deal of training.  I know it sounds a bit lazy, but I just wanted a no-brainer kind of job.  Something easy.  In sharing this new direction with a friend, she suggested that I go by her chiropractor’s office as she thought they were looking for someone.  I did and they were and it was exactly what I was looking for.  Sweet!

So for the past few months I’ve been working part-time for a chiropractor whose practice expands into the scope of wholeness – treatments and consultations that go beyond structural adjustments and into the areas of nutrition and health.  (Talk about accountability in what I pack for my lunch on work days!)  His knowledge of how the body works (or doesn’t work) physically, mentally, and emotionally is vast and I am learning a great deal from our conversations. Being of a certain age and dealing with the challenges and frustration of this certain age have proven more than I’ve been able to manage as well as I’d like on my own, so finding this position is simply one more revelation of His perfect leading in my life.  I am finding answers.  Slowly.  One by one.  This is not my preferred method to arrive at solutions.

The doctor says that it’s like peeling an onion.  There are many layers and the only way to see all that is in the onion is to peel back the layers one at a time.  (He didn’t mention that there would be tears…) And while he is helping me uncover the real reasons my knee hurts and my arm aches and the extra pounds just will not budge, God is still peeling away as well…

And He’s uncovered a layer of discontent.

I truly am in the best time in my life, but I’ve found myself more irritable and frustrated lately than usual.  Some days I haven’t wanted to look deeper than the outer layers, so I’ve blamed my grumpiness on being tired.  A lot.  And I am tired, but God is peeling away whether I like it or not and showing me that this layer of discontent is one of the things that is making me so tired.

As I’ve taken the time to look at this layer, most of the things I am discontented with are small things.  A few are bigger things with which I am frustrated because there seems to be no progress.  And of course, last but not least, I am discontented with myself.  Again, nothing major, but a clinging dissatisfaction with my own personal progress.

As I turned to scripture to see what it had to say about contentment, a familiar statement by Paul first came to mind.  But then I came across another that I’d never given much attention:

Godliness accompanied with contentment is great and abundant gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

We can be saved and redeemed and forgiven and still be discontent.  However, this godliness that we’ve been given needs to be connected to contentment, for our good and everyone else’s.  It’s not easy to live with a discontented person…

Now the more familiar words:

…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…  Philippians 4:11-12

There is a secret to being content in any and every situation and it must be LEARNED.  This is the secret:

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

and …Apart from Me – cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing.  John 15:5b

The Greek word for content is autarkes.  It means “sufficient in oneself, adequate, needing no assistance”

If I will learn that I am in vital union with Him – I cannot be separated from Him – and I draw my strength from this knowledge daily, sometimes breath by breath, I will be content.  He is enough that I need no other assistance.  He is in me and I am in Him and this fact alone makes me sufficient for whatever lies before me.

There have been a few tears in this peeling of the onion that is revealing my areas of discontent, and there will likely be a few more before it is all said and done.  But I will continue my education.  I will learn to be content.

 

 

Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, righteousness, Spiritual, tears, trials, Uncategorized

She just doesn’t know it yet

He’s been watching her all her life.  He’s whispered to her time and time again but she didn’t hear.  He yearns to hold her and comfort her as she struggles.  It’s going to be all right, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She trembles with the fear of the unknown as her circumstances have stripped her of her identity.  She is strong, she just doesn’t know it yet.

The love that had been her foundation has been ripped away.  She yields to the new identity that presses in on her:  the unlovable.  She is immeasurably loved, she just doesn’t know it yet.

This roller coaster ride of choices makes her sick.  She hates herself because of her weakness.  His opinion of her remains unchanged, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Loneliness is her constant companion as no one wants on this ride with her.  She is not alone, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She goes through the motions of living while she entertains the thoughts of ending it all.  Her earthly life has eternal purpose, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Defeat hangs over her like a thick black cloud as she cannot go back and change the past.  Her knees buckle under the weight of the consequences.  She is redeemed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She grasps to find hope in the words she reads and the messages she hears, but it seems she is grasping at air.  She is full of hope, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her tears are constant from the pain of this deep, gaping wound from which she believes she will never recover.  She is healed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She heard the words again today.  The same words she’s heard over and over, but this time something is different.  Can it really be true?  He loves her?  Something stirs inside her as she considers this possibility…something life-changing…

Her life is changing, she just doesn’t know it yet.

 

She just doesn’t know it yet” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, new creation, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

In between

I woke this morning thinking of the followers of Jesus many, many years ago who awoke on this day in between.  They had walked with Him and talked with Him and believed in Him and now He was dead. The fullness of understanding had not come to them yet and they find themselves striving to put the pieces together.  I imagine what it was like as they recall and discuss with one another the things He said as they openly share their grief for this Beloved One who is gone.  Some silently grieve over the hope they feel is dying as doubts and fears begin to creep into the sacred place of their broken hearts.

The mighty work being done was invisible to them, as are all things of faith in the beginning.  Some found strength in numbers, remaining with their fellow believers.  Others pull away searching for clarity in the solitude where no one can touch their pain or expose what they are afraid is their faithlessness. Still others cannot be still, pacing as they try to find something to do that will ease their sorrow and clear the fog of the unknown, not realizing that nothing they could ever do would impact the outcome of His marvelous plan.

In between they wait.

They cling to the words of promise uttered from His lips but they do not see the fulfillment.  The frustration of things left undone is ready to overwhelm if they will let it have its way.  Emotionally and physical exhaustion cause the hours to pass slowly.

Three days.

There is no way around it, this day in between.  Tomorrow there will finally be something to do, rituals to observe which are in themselves the symbols of finality.  Once His body was prepared and the tomb was sealed again, they would be expected to return to their lives.  But how could they?  They have been forever changed and nothing is the same as it was before He came and the question hangs in the air “What will we do now?”

Sometimes the waiting in between is hard for us also.  We find Him and His promise that sin is conquered and that we will be free from its grip and destruction.  We know from the depths of our spirits He is real and His promises are true.  But we look at ourselves and it appears we are unchanged.  We cannot always see the work He is performing in our own lives and if we are not careful the frustration of things that seem undone can overwhelm us.  Fears and doubts stand ready to creep in and convince us that we are not really changed after all.

In between we wait.

Oh, sometimes there are obvious things that we need to do.  We need to read and study and fellowship with those who will love and encourage.  We need to recall and discuss the things we were taught of Him.  But when we understand that it is by faith that we receive Him and by faith that we receive the victory over sin, we can learn to stand in faith while we wait, our faith placed in His power to change us from within and work out this wonderful salvation in our every day lives.  Faith that one day our transformation will be evident on the outside.

Those believers many years ago stood in between the cross and the resurrection and they waited.  We stand in between the power of the resurrection and the perfection that heaven will be.  There is no way around it, there is time in between.  This time of our existence on earth is important and He will make it significant in His way and His time.  But let’s not forget that this is not the end goal.  One day we will be with Him after the in between. 

In between” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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This hope we have

 

 

I could hardly understand what she was trying to say, her words were so choked and broken by sobs.  In the aftermath of choices that have irrevocably altered her life, she is powerless to stop the ripple effect throughout the waters of those who love her, a ripple effect that has produced their choices as well.  No doubt she will never return to the way things were.  The damage has been done.

“You have destroyed your life.”  This is the lie the enemy relentlessly screams to her as if her life is over and there is no point to her existence any longer.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  Others have even voiced those words.  It must be true.

What do I have to offer this one in the grips of despair?  Hope.  Not empty words of the sun shining again, although it will.  But a deeper hope that transcends the multitude of mistakes we make.  Hope that is the very answer to despair.  Hope that holds the future in His hands and Hope that is unwilling to settle for less than the impossible.  It is why He came to earth.

Here is a portion of a beautiful song by Kathryn Scott entitled At the Foot of the Cross that captures the wonder of this hope we have…

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

This is the hope we have:  that we can take all the ashes of our choices, our mistakes, our sin to God and He does the impossible – He turns it into something beautiful.  For this burdened friend of mine, her mistakes have brought her to His feet where her suffering meets His grace, where He lifts her head and crowns her with His loving forgiveness, and where her life will begin again.  She will grieve over what is lost, but will rejoice in what is found as she discovers the mercy that is new every morning.  She will find Hope.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not one of all His benefits— 

Who forgives every one of all your iniquities, Who heals each one of all your diseases, 

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption,

Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; 

Who satisfies your mouth – your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation – with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s – strong, overcoming, soaring!   Psalm 103:1-4

 

This hope we have” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com